Traditions are part of the Italian culture, days like Christmas, Easter, Birthdays, Anniversaries, Births, and of course Weddings have their own traditions. All countries in the world have a variety of customs and traditions and of course, Italy is not an exception to this. Italian traditions regarding weddings are so intriguing because they vary from region to region, even if the nicest are respected everywhere. Couples wishing to get married in Italy in the tradition of their ancestors or at least introduce elements from their cultural backgrounds. Step by step here follow the most important Italian marriage traditions.
Nowadays a man proposes to a woman directly giving her a ring with a diamond which is a symbol of the eternity of love, a promise to marry, the first step towards a life together, and this promise is then traditionally sealed with a romantic kiss. Engagement rings date back to the medieval ages and are now one of the most common traditions all over the world. From this moment on the couple can be considered officially engaged.
This is not part of the Italian tradition like in other cultures, what happens is that the couple organizes a meeting with both their families to allow them to know each other if this has not happened before and then announce their wish to share a family life.
'Hen' or bachelorette parties are a recent innovation that started in America in the 1970s. In Italy, these parties are an opportunity to have a nice dinner and fun with friends, even the ones who are not invited to the Wedding. A night out with friends that usually happens one or two weekends before the wedding.
An Italian bride spends the night before the wedding at her parent's house. Some wear green because it is said that brings good fortune. The Bride is not supposed to wear any gold on her wedding day apart from her wedding ring, it is considered bad luck. The bride has to wear something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and something she has received as a gift.
The bridal gown is white as a symbol of innocence and purity, thus this color is traditionally reserved for the bride. While some recent trends have proposed white attire for the female guests, it is still considered inappropriate to wear white, unless the couple asks you to.
Italian wedding dresses are made with precious fabrics and reflect the renowned Italian tailoring traditions. An Italian traditional dress can be customized with special designs and accessories, according to the taste of the bride. The customization process can include multiple trials, so we recommend choosing an Italian designer only if you can visit his/her workshop in Italy more than once.
Traditional Italian clothing etiquette can vary according to the type of ceremony: this is an important aspect to consider while choosing your bridal gown. There is no particular rule for a symbolic or a civil ceremony dress, so the bride can go bold with bareback cuts and thigh-high slits. If the ceremony takes place in a Catholic church, the dress code recommends more modest styles, avoiding bare shoulders, low-cut fronts, and miniskirts. This should not limit your choices: you can add an elegant shawl, a cape or a bolero to a strapless gown, or choose a second gown as an after-ceremony wedding dress.
Italian wedding outfits for the mothers of the bride and groom and the maid of honor should be chosen according to the season, the location, and the time of day: a summer wedding in Italy can be very hot, so the best choices are natural and breathable fabrics like silk, cotton, and linen.
The dress code for guests can be mentioned on the wedding invites. The dress code for a Catholic wedding involves a semi-formal or formal attire, avoiding necklines and shoulders in plain sight: female guests can wear a jacket or a shawl. At a formal wedding, female guests should wear knee-length or long dresses, while at a more informal event they can wear shorter lengths. Light colors are recommended in the morning and afternoon and dark colors for the evening.
The Groom must not see the Bride before the wedding ceremony, he is at the altar with his witness and waits till the Bride steps in, accompanied by her father who will then "give her away". Bride's father shakes the Groom's hand, kisses her daughter, and walks back to the first row of benches to take place next to the Bride's mother. This is more common with Catholic weddings, while for a civil wedding Bride and Groom arrive together at the Wedding Hall accompanied by family and friends. In some regions Bride and Groom walk together to the Church, in other regions, the Groom brings the bouquet of flowers to the wedding or even carries a piece of iron in his pocket.
The wedding band in Italy is called ‘fede’: this word in Italian means also faith. This is the strongest symbol of the bond between bride and groom, representing their love, faithfulness, and commitment to each other. The exchange of rings is the most moving moment of the marriage ceremony. In Italy the wedding ring is usually worn on the left hand: this tradition dates back to the Roman times, when the left ring finger was believed to be connected directly to the heart by a special vein called ‘vena amoris’, the vein of love.
Rice is thrown at the couple coming out of the Church or wedding hall to symbolize a shower of fertility. All guests approach and congratulate the newlyweds outside the wedding venue. In some regions in Italy Bride and Groom have to cut a log in two with a double handle saw after the wedding. This symbolizes the couple's partnership in marriage. Another nice tradition is tying a ribbon in front of the church. The ribbon represents the bride and groom 'tying the knot'.
Wedding receptions follow the ceremony, guests keep the same dresses. Guests arrive before the wedding couple at the restaurant. The waiters offer them some aperitifs while they wait for the arrival of the spouses from their photo tour.
Many funny moments are organized at an Italian Wedding despite the main activity is still eating a lot of delicious and genuine food accompanied by the best wines, limoncello, and liquors. Often during the banquet, guests bang glasses with spoons to encourage the Bride and Groom to kiss several times.
At some weddings, particularly in Northern Italy, the best man cuts the groom's tie into little pieces. The pieces are then put onto a tray and sold to the guests. Bride and Groom go from table to table, greeting and chatting with every guest, so everyone feels welcomed.
At some point friends of the couple sneak away to play tricks in the new couple's house (they put itching powder in the bed, fishes in the bathtub, hide shoes...), others organize practical jokes for the couple.
It is customarily that the Bride throws her bouquet to the single ladies attending the banquet. Whoever catches the bouquet will be the next to get married!
The wedding cake is white (for purity), tiered, and topped by figurines representing the bride and groom.
The wedding couple remains till the end of the reception and not only, sometimes the very close friends stay with the couple even after the reception, they go all together for a drink or even accompany them to their new house.
At the end of the wedding day, just before guests leave, Bride and Groom give small gifts to their guests to say thank you. Italians call them bomboniere, made of a present, confetti (sugared almonds), and printed ribbons. Italian Bomboniere with confetti are a symbol of family life. The number of confetti is very important: it should be an odd number - preferably 5 or 7- each a good-luck number.